Thursday, May 2, 2013

Southern Thoughts on Southern Pride

Photo by: Benjamin Gray of Flickr
I posted awhile back about Brad Paisley’s song “Accidental Racist” and how it’s just regular old racist. In that post, I touched on the concept of Southern Pride and how, as someone from Arkansas, I just do not get it.

Now, that isn't to say that there aren't things from the south that one could be proud of.

For example, one could be proud of our rich heritage in literature. The south has produced some of the most important writers in modern American literature. Folks like Charles W. Chesnutt, Kate Chopin, William Faulkner, Edgar Allan Poe, Frederick Douglas, and Tennessee Williams.
Or what about music? We have a strong tradition of some pretty kick ass music in the south. Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Buddy Holly all hailed from the south. Hell, actor and musician Steve Martin was originally from down here, along with the tradition of bluegrass. And how about the meeting of those two things, eh?

And we have some awesome (if heart-crushingly terrible for you) cuisine, with a rich history of barbecues and meats and sweet tea and...shit, this all sounds awesome!

If we wanted to be known as the friendly, outgoing, people, boisterous but kind, I could get behind that.

Unfortunately, that’s not what southern pride means.

Southern Pride means glorifying a bunch of traitors that separated from the United States because the federal government was considering abolishing the practice of slavery--the practice of buying and selling people as property. And then they went on to create a society whose policy of slavery was written into the founding principles of the country!

“In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.”
[...]
“1. The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same.”
[...]
“4. No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.”


Since we can all agree that slavery is evil, I’m with John Scalzi on this about the whole Southern Pride thing being a big pile of horseshit.

And the thing that really baffles me about the whole Southern Pride movement is how many of the people marching under that banner are getting their own history wrong!

For example, you've all seen this flag, right?

Image from Wikimedia Commons
That is the flag worn by bigots and idiots the world over. It’s worn by people who romanticize a terrible, horrible time period in our country. And it was never the flag flown over the Confederacy.

The Confederate States of America had three flags during its brief stint as a separate nation, and none of those flags were the above flag. The above flag was a battle flag used by the Confederate army. Not a national flag. There were two flags that looked sort of like that:

Original Image from Wikimedia Commons
Original Image from Wikimedia Commons
The flags featured above are the second and third national flags of the confederacy. The almost solid white one was nicknamed the stainless banner at the time, and while a lot of hoopla was made about the symbolism of having a pure white field, two things became apparent: 1) it looked like their battle flag put over a surrender flag, and 2) it was not actually...well...stainless.

The one with the red bar was nicknamed the bloodstained banner, which is also funny when you consider that the south got their asses kicked and surrendered two weeks after passing this flag.

The only other flag to fly over the CSA?

Original Image from Wikimedia Commons
The flag that everyone commonly refers to as the stars and bars (aka the rebel flag, the Confederate flag, etc), is not the actual stars and bars. That would be the flag featured above. This flag was designed partially because the people of the south didn't want to totally abandon the stars and stripes of the United States. However, I guess they did too good of a job mimicking the US’s flag, because the two flags kept getting confused during battle.

The point to all of this is that it is frustrating and sad when I hear people talk about being proud of the South, being a proud rebel son, blah blah blah. The southerners weren't scrappy little guys trying to buck an unfair and unjust nation. They were trying to defend an institution in which people were bought and sold as property for the profit of other people. There’s nothing to be proud of there.

However, if you want to read some William Faulkner while listening to Steve Martin’s new bluegrass album and eating some barbecue? Call me over. That’s some southern pride I can get behind, y’all.